Closed circuit

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‘i mustn’t put the name in this story – there has been a legal ruling…’

Our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, has long known that in the media there is a closed circle of knowledge which cannot be accessed by the general public, and this is shown by today’s huge row over an unnamed BBC presenter who allegedly requested explicit pictures of a teenager, as many know who the person is.

It also reveals the enormous contradictions within legal rulings today.

Previously Phil has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and made clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and

Earlier he disclosed why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, and how information from trusted sources is crucial.

 

Pressure grows every day for the public to be told.

Allegations about an unnamed BBC presenter supposedly paying someone for sexually explicit photographs, beginning when they were 17, have been dominating the headlines for days now, but we’re not allowed to know who it is.

The reality, of course, is that although the name hasn’t actually been PUBLISHED, many people in the media and beyond know exactly who it is.

As the Daily Mail reports: “ONE-IN-SIX PEOPLE KNOW WHO SCANDAL-HIT BBC STAR IS”.

Have you heard?!

That would mean MILLIONS are in on the secret!

It also shows the law at work here.

The Protection of Children Act 1978 says that it is a crime to take, make, share and possess indecent images of people under 18. The maximum sentence is 10 years.

The Supreme Court said there were rules governing a right to privacy

There are other legal issues at play too.

For example, since a major Supreme Court ruling in 2022, a right to privacy covers people who are under investigation by a law enforcement agency.

But there are huge problems at the heart of all this legal business, which usually revolve around the concept of what is or is not ‘published’.

If the name is put out by the BBC, or a UK newspaper, then it has clearly been published.

What if the name is read out here?!

But what about if the name is printed out and read in your own house to neighbours?

What about if a room is hired in the local pub and read out to people assembled there?

What about if you stand up in the office to tell a lot of people, and you read the name from a piece of paper?

Has the name been ‘published’ if it is included in a personal blog?!

What about if you include the name in a personal blog which almost nobody reads, but can be accessed by anyone?

Has it been ‘published’?

There is also an issue of whether the law is abreast of modern technology.

What invariably happens is that the name is published in a foreign magazine, which of course is not covered by British courts, but in the modern world this can be easily read in the UK by going on the website.

The name shouldn’t only be known by journalists

This whole area is a legal minefield.

What seems quite wrong, however, and IS clear is that a closed circle in the media (and beyond) can know the name, but others can’t!

 

The memories of Phil’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (when he was aware of certain details but couldn’t publish them) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A Good Story’. Order it now.

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Another book, though, has not been published, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how an admission of police mistakes by the biggest force in the UK highlights huge errors by the largest one in Wales after a string of miscarriages, yet there has been no formal apology, and it comes amid mounting concern that a country of only 3.1 million people has FOUR forces.